5 Tips to Spark Creativity

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In our society of constant tweeting, blogging, posting and hashtagging, there are times where it’s hard to find those ‘awe-struck’ moments of inspiration. As a communication person, there are very few things that are more frustrating than creative block. You quickly realize that drowning yourself in coffee while staring at a blinking cursor of a Word document or the outline of your Illustrator artboard won’t help you, no matter how long you try. So I compiled a list of my top 5 ideas to kick your creative juices into gear.


1. Get the tunes cranking

I’m not saying to drop the bass and turn your desk into a concert venue, the accounting department doesn’t need to hear your guilty pleasure music stations, but there’s scientific proof that listening to music can actually improve brain function. According to Jonah Lehrer, a neuroscientist and author, “Music can alter the state of our brainwaves, as well as trigger neurotransmitters, like dopamine, that alter our mood and reward us for creative breakthroughs” [1] Personally, my music choices change depending on the project I’m working on. Alternative rock, reggae or country are my go-to when working on graphic design projects (and an occasional Bieber tune, I will admit) while instrumental jazz or acoustic covers works best when writing articles or press releases. Whatever music floats your boat, I suggest sticking your headphones in and getting lost in the creative world of riffs and drum solos.

2. Take a break

Sometimes you need to minimize the screen and change the scenery in order to get back on track. Taking a walk or even doodling on some scratch paper for a little while can result in a creative revolution. Our brains have two main modes of functioning (have I mentioned I’m a psychology minor?), “focused mode” which is our brain condition when we are doing things such as writing, studying or reading and “diffuse mode” which is our more relaxed, daydreamy state of thinking. While you may think that you should try and maximize focused thinking, it may have a negative effect on your critical thinking and imaginative thoughts. Dr. Barbara Oakley, the author of A Mind for Numbers, talks on an episode of Inquiring Minds podcast saying “When you’re focusing, you’re actually blocking your access to the diffuse mode. And the diffuse mode, it turns out, is what you often need to be able to solve a very difficult, new problem.”. [2]

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3. Ask for feedback

When I’m super stuck on an assignment, I find that having an outside perspective can freshen up my point of a view and help steer me in a new productive direction. Every individual has a unique point of view and experiences that may spark some solutions.

4. Get rest

I know your to-do list is 7 miles long and you still haven’t visited grandma this week, but get some sleep. A well-rested brain is going to work a lot better than a tired one. Aside from significantly cutting down your caffeine intake, sleep is a way for the brain to store information and boost productivity due to the phenomenon of “sleep spindles”.

5. Brain dump

Originally, I started doing brain dumps at night when I had a hard time falling asleep. Like many college students and young professionals, my brain doesn’t have a properly wired ‘off switch’. By writing down a bunch of gibberish that I had swirling around my brain, it helped me relax my noggin enough to fall asleep. I found that by re-reading these blurbs of nonsense written in my semi-conscious state at a later time helped spark unique ideas that I may not have come up with during the day. Similarly, when I’m sitting at my computer without an idea of what to write or how to approach a design, jotting down some random thoughts helps spark the creativity to a successful post.


 

I hope these tips help you the next time you find yourself at a creative standstill. Comment below with any other ways you find inspiration!


 

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-fitzpatrick/music-and-creativity_b_2253464.html
[2] https://soundcloud.com/inquiringminds/45-barb-oakley-the-science-of-learning

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